Age of Terror: Singapore’s Struggle Against Communist Terror

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By Epoch Newsroom

The link between communism and terrorism is irrefutable.

To quote from the ‘Communist Manifesto’: “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions” – in other words, the atheist Communist Party’s means of securing power is through violence.

Singapore is known for its public safety. Yet its streets were once besieged with violence and terror, during the 1950’s postwar era.

(WATCH: Age of Terror Part 1)

(WATCH: Age of Terror Part 2)

(WATCH: Age of Terror Part 3)

Based and inspired by true event, ‘Age of Terror’ is a three-part online series that brings viewers back to the terror and chaos of the 1950s communist insurgency, as Singapore struggled against communist terrorism.

Set against the backdrop of the Malayan Emergency that raged from 1948 to 1960 and claimed thousands of lives, the series tells the story of a Special Branch detective racing against time to hunt down a ruthless communist killer behind a series of cold-blooded murders.

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Film Director Dominic Ow  the Pre-Independence Days of Turbulence

The Age of Terror is produced by Singaporean filmmaker Dom Ow with assistance from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore.

While interviewing a former Special Branch detective who had fought against the communist threat in the 1950s,  Dominic Ow was surprised to learn about the violence and ideological struggles that took place. It was a side of Singapore’s history he never knew existed.

Dominic recalled that the history he learnt in school was “less a narrative than a series of data points – In 1819, Raffles founded Singapore; 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese; 1945, the Japanese surrendered …”

He felt that Singaporeans should have a more holistic view of history, instead of being limited to what happened after 1965—the year of Singapore‘s independence.

Fascinated by what he had learnt, Dominic researched into the communist insurgency and collected as much information as he could. These became building blocks for the film’s plot.

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Singapore’s Past Experience With Terror

The series brings to life the climate of terror during the 1950s, when grenade attacks on police stations, arson, and cold-blooded assassinations of civilians and security personnel were daily occurrences.

One true incident, which was faithfully recreated in the series, is the shooting of a female rubber factory supervisor by the communists, in the name of “justice for ‘oppressing’ her workers”.

Following a spate of violence by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), a state of emergency was declared in Singapore on 24 June 1948. Planning to establish communist rule in Singapore and Malaya, the MCP started to subvert law and order by controlling trade union activism and engaging in guerrilla warfare.

Gradually, with the colonial government gaining the upper hand, the MCP lost the guerrilla war in Malaya. They then turned to urban subversion in Singapore, which began in 1950. This was when the MCP carried out its campaign of arson and murders, and is the main setting for The Age of Terror.

The shadowy, callous communist killer in the drama takes after a real communist killer squad leader, Wong Fook Kwang alias Tit Fung.

The Special Branch was the intelligence arm of the police responsible for tracking down and containing the growing communist threat. In The Age of Terror, viewers witness how Special Branch detectives operated and the challenges they had to overcome in the fight against the communists.

The Malayan Emergency ended on 31 July 1960, leaving 11,000 deaths in its wake. In Singapore alone, at least 59 terrorist attacks were carried out between 1950 and 1956.

Drawing parallels to what is happening in the world today, the series aims to remind Singaporeans not to take our present peaceful times for granted.



Read ‘Nine Commentaries On the Communist Party’ –

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